This carne asada recipe is easy to make with flank or skirt steak in a zingy homemade marinade, then grilled for real Mexican flavor, perfect for tacos!
The Best Carne Asada Recipe
You've probably enjoyed Carne Asada at your local Mexican restaurant, and if you're like me, you love it deeply. It's a hugely flavorful Mexican dish, mostly served in taco form, but sometimes served sliced as the main dish.
Carne Asada translates to "Grilled Meat", but that doesn't say much about what it really is. What defines it is that amazing flavor of beef straight off the grill.
Let's discuss what it is and how to make Mexican carne asada at home.
What is Carne Asada?
Carne asada is a Mexican recipe of beef that is marinated, grilled, then sliced and served. The words, "Carne Asada" translate to "Grilled Meat" from Spanish, but the dish has certainly evolved over the ages.
What once was likely a simple recipe of lightly seasoned meat tossed onto a grill is now a hugely popular and flavorful favorite.
When making carne asada, you have three major considerations:
- The Cut of Beef
- The Marinade
- The Grilling
The Carne Asada Marinade - Your Secret Ingredient
You need a good marinade to make authentic carne asada. There is no single traditional marinade, and marinade recipes vary from cook to cook and region to region. Some simply use a dry rub of salt and pepper with other seasonings, others only lime juice and spices.
A lot of modern recipes call for soy sauce in the marinade, but I don't find this used in many authentic carne asada recipes. It's still a flavorful addition, though.
My recipe incorporates a number of different ingredients.
I've been tweaking it for a while now, using it on different cuts of meat. For me, it's the best carne asada marinade I've ever had.
The marinade helps to not only flavor the meat, but also tenderize it. Once you've marinated your steak, you'll notice how tender and juicy it becomes after you've grilled it. Each bite will melt in your mouth.
Check out my Zesty Carne Asada Marinade here, but I've also included it in the recipe below.
Let's talk about how to make carne asada, shall we?
Fire up the grill, my friends.
Carne Asada Ingredients
- CARNE ASADA MARINADE INGREDIENTS
- Olive Oil.
- Lime Juice.
- Orange Juice.
- White Wine Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is good, too.
- Chili Peppers. Use serrano peppers for a spicier version, jalapenos for a milder version.
- Fresh Chopped Cilantro.
- Spices. Cumin, oregano, sea salt, black pepper, ancho powder (optional, my personal addition).
- FOR THE CARNE ASADA
- Skirt or Flank Steak. You can use other cuts of steak. See the Recipe Notes section.
How to Make Carne Asada - Recipe Steps
Make the Carne Asada Marinade. First, whisk together the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl to make your marinade.
Alternatively, you can process the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Marinate the Steak. To use the marinade, add it to a large sealable bag with the steak and rub it thoroughly into the meat. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for more flavor penetration.
You can also set the submerge the steak in the marinade in a large baking dish.
Grill the Steak. When you're ready to grill, heat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the steak, discard the marinade, then sear the marinated steak on the grill for 8-10 minutes per side, or until cooked to your liking. 135 degrees F is medium-rare.
Cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the steak you're using.
I like to use my ThermoPop meat thermometer from ThermoWorks (I'm an affiliate). Works great! Almost there!
Rest the Steak, then Slice. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing (or up to 10 minutes), then thinly slice it against the grain on a cutting board and serve it up.
That's it, my friends! This is the best carne asada I've ever had. Super tender, super flavorful. Seriously hard to beat.
Recipe Notes & Tips
Skirt steak or flank steak are the most popular choices for making carne asada, but did you know you can make it with other cuts of beef? Flank or skirt steak are not required. You can make carne asada with ribeye, tenderloin, sirloin and other cuts of beef. The choice is yours.
Many authentic Mexican recipes use t-bone, ribeye, tenderloin, or short loin.
I prefer flank steak because it is a slightly tougher cut of meat that benefits hugely from the marinade. Also, it grills up quickly, and once it is grilled, when you slice it against the grain, the meat falls right apart for the perfect combination of texture and flavor.
Non-Grilled Options. If grilling is an issue, you can also sear up the steak in a hot cast iron pan or a grill pan. I've done this and it works great.
Slicing the Steak. If your plan is to make carne asada tacos, you can slice the meat before you marinade it. This will cut down on your marinating time and will also help the marinade more deeply penetrate the meat.
Otherwise, I like to marinate the steak whole to cook it through more uniformly. I've never had an issue this way.
Grilled carne asada can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Simple reheat in a pan or on the grill to enjoy later.
You can also freeze it in freezer containers or vacuum sealed bags for 3 months or longer.
That's it, my friends! Let me know how you like the steak. I love it! Have a good one.
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Easy Carne Asada Recipe
FOR THE MARINADE
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice from 2 large oranges about a ¾ cup
- Juice from 2 limes
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar apple cider vinegar is good, too
- 1-2 serrano peppers minced (or use jalapeno peppers for a milder version)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ - ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon ancho powder optional, but I LOVE it
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
FOR THE CARNE ASADA
- 3 pound skirt or flank steak for marinating
- Whisk all of the marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl until well combined.
- Alternatively, you can process the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- To use the marinade, add it to a large sealable bag with the steak and rub it thoroughly into the meat. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for more flavor penetration.
- Discard the marinade, then grill the marinated steak on the grill for 8-10 minutes per side, or until cooked to your liking. 135 degrees F is medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice it against the grain and serve it up.